Exploring the World’s Largest Model Railway

Once Aircraft Interiors Expo and the World Travel Catering Expo were over, my friend and I had spare time in the afternoon to visit Hamburg. We used the Hamburg U-Bahn underground and headed to Miniatur Wunderland.

Opened in 2000, Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model railway and also one of the most popular permanent exhibition in Northern Germany. As of today, there are nine sections of the Wunderland which are Hartz/Central Germany, Knuffingen, Alps/Austria, Hamburg, United States, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Knuffingen Airport and Italy. The work is far from over as the team is working on expanding the exhibition thru the following years to come.

The Knuffingen Airport was definitely my favourite section of Miniatur Wunderland. I wonder why?

The Knuffingen Airport was definitely my favourite section of Miniatur Wunderland. I wonder why?

I personally thought the airport was awesome. The designers paid attention to every detail. One thing that is amazing about this airport is that you can visually see the aircraft takeoff and land on the runway. Additionally, the planes can move around the airport and even head to a gate. Once the aircraft is parked at a gate, the jet bridge will move and align with the aircraft’s main door.

A Gate Gourmet truck loaded with beverages and meals.

A Gate Gourmet truck loaded with beverages and meals.

Even the baggage loading vehicles and the catering truck pictured above can move around the airport. The airport, the planes and the small trucks all had lights. You could even see the orange blinker of a truck that was turning left or right at an intersection.

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From back to front: Lufthansa (Boeing 747), Air Berlin (Airbus A330), Air France (Boeing 777), China Eastern (Airbus A330) and Emirates (Boeing 777).

The airport's schedule.

The airport’s schedule.

It was cool to see the actual schedule of the airport published. While looking at the schedule, you could anticipate what aircraft and airline would be the next departure and arrival.

Even though we spent most of our time at the model airport, we managed to visit the nine sections of the exhibition. There was a lot to see!

Grand Canyon, Nevada.

Grand Canyon, Nevada.

Pictured above is the Grand Canyon that can be found in the state of Nevada. It was fascinating to see the lively city of Las Vegas at night.

Train station.

Train station.

Visitors can find railways in multiple sections of the exhibition. Like the airplanes, the  trains move around the cities from station to station.

I would call it a "Centre of Operations."

I would call it the “Centre of Operations.”

It was intriguing to see “behind the scenes” of how everything worked to make this Miniatur Wunderland an attractive place to stop by. I believe these employees were  controlling and monitoring some of the trains, cars, boats, airplanes, aerial tramways, chairlifts, etc. I am sure there is automation involved but they need humans to make everything work perfectly.

I really enjoyed spending a few hours in this “miniature world.” If you visit Hamburg, I would totally recommend you to go take a look. Tickets are only €9 per person!

Until next time!

Nicolas

Two Days in Berlin

Victory ColumnHallo!

Early this week, I travelled to Europe with my friend to attend Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany. Before we arrived in Hamburg, we spent two days in Berlin to visit the city. Here are the cool things we did during our stay:

Victory Column
The first activity we did once we arrived in Berlin was to visit the Victory Column (pictured on the right). From the top of the monument, you are able to view the city. It is located in the centre of a roundabout very close to the Tiergarten, one of the most popular park in Berlin. 

East Side Gallery
The following morning, we took the U-Bahn (subway) and headed to see the Berlin Wall, which is also known as the East Side Gallery. The 1,316 metre (4,318 feet) long section of the wall is covered with various paintings. Many portions of the wall have been damaged by erosion with time and graffitis since some parts are not protected with a fence.

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Brandenburg Gate
This is the city’s only ancient gate remaining. The construction of this landmark started in 1788 and was completed in 1791. What is interesting about it is that it is aligned with the Berlin Victory Column. You can see the tip of it on the picture below.

IMG_4012Topography of Terror
This outdoor and interior museum housed the headquarters of the Gestapo (secret police) during the Third Reich.

Photo: Topography des Terrors

Photo: Topographie des Terrors

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the checkpoint between the American and Soviet sectors of Berlin. After the construction of the Berlin Wall, it primarily served as a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

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Reichstag
The Italian High Renaissance building served as the seat of parliament in the German Empire. Today, it  functions as the seat of the federal German parliament. 
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Berlin Tempelhof Airport
This was probably one of my favorite part of Berlin. The Tempelhof Airport is an abandoned airport that ceased operations in 2008. The airfield has two parallel runways (09R/27R and 09L/27L) with a length of more than 6,000 feet. It only had one taxiway that was basically circled the runways.

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We rented bikes for about one hour and rolled down on the runways and taxiways! We saw a Douglas C-54 of the USAAF parked under the terminal  (pictured above) and a Let L-410 Turbojet that was used for fire training purposes. The hour flew by really fast!IMG_0006

 

After our passage through the abandoned airport, we headed to the city’s main railway station (Berlin Hauptbahnhof) to take a train to Hamburg. In my next post, I will talk about Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 in Hamburg!

Nicolas

007 Study Abroad: Belfast, Ireland.

IMG_84702.5 Week Study Abroad in Ireland, France, Great Britain

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Greetings from Ireland! Location: Belfast Peace Walls

Official Day 2 has just ended and it’s 10pm in Belfast right now, but feels like it’s 5pm! Most of us arrived in Belfast on Sunday. After a 6 hour flight, sleep deprived, hungry, and after having an interesting encounter with customs, we were ready to go to bed. Of course, with the time change, we couldn’t until later that night. So, that day we walked around the streets of Belfast gathering up Belgium chocolates, last minute essentials, and a crazy amount of shepherds pie. Our hostel, the Vagabonds, is extremely nice and is filled with various free souls (mostly students) from all over the world. Every hall is decorated with historical pieces of Belfast and sprinkled memories. It’s cozy and quaint. I couldn’t complain.

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IMG_8394Inside the hostel

BpHN3uXIEAAxXrVDowntown Belfast

IMG_8425For the beginning portion of Summer A, us students took two main courses: HS 405, Emerging Topics In Homeland Security and HS 325, Terrorism: Ideologies, Origins, and Goals. We mostly discussed the time of the Troubles here in Belfast, the time of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and their experiences with the British Government.

saSigning the Peace Wall
(this peace wall was intended to separate the Catholics from the Protestants during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The city people do not plan on taking the wall down anytime soon.)

Yesterday, we had two political tours around the city of Belfast; one tour from an ex member of the IRA and the other from an ex member of the UUP. To say the least, it was a very interesting experience because we got to hear both sides of the story during the times of the Troubles.DCIM100GOPRO

sa5sa6Oldest pub in Belfast

Today, we went to Queen’s University for a lecture. The University was beautiful! We listened to two professors from the Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice; they mostly spoke about the time of the Troubles here in Northern Ireland. We certainly gained a few gems of wisdom on the conflict.

10367162_10203175519045520_1323439026141113012_nDCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROCity Hall

DCIM100GOPROTomorrow, we’ll be hopping over to Giant’s Causeway for a tour of a great volcanic plateau on the ocean and experience old Irish castles and whiskey tasting. Thursday, we head to Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

If you are interested in studying somewhere outside the US, definitely consider it for the future. You will gain a completely different perspective on not only social aspects, but also academics as well. And take the risk of going to somewhere foreign to you! The leap is totally worth it, after all.

Here’s a great quote on growth: “It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner until there is none at all. …We are not the less to aim at the summits though the multitude does not ascend them.”- Henry David Thoreau

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable. Safety does not always lie in security, which is why we grow when we are in unfamiliar situations. Allow yourself the chance for that growth.
Keep you posted.

Goodbye island life

This is probably the only blog from an Embry-Riddle student who started two first days at this University, 5 years apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I was a Key West trolley tour guide.  I entertained tourists with facts of the island and repeated the same corny jokes to them every day, sometimes with a few originals.  Chances are good that if you visited Key West and rode on an orange and green trolley over the past year, I was your bus driver and guide.  I also drove the Key West haunted tours, a type of meet and greet with Key West characters like Robert the doll as well as the other types of spirits….not necessarily the ones found in haunted houses.  I found myself living on the island by accident.  I went to be a dog sitter for two weeks and ended staying almost a year!  You might say I caught what the locals call the “Keys Disease” and it’s hard to resist.  People come for a visit but never leave.  It’s said on the island that if you show up to work every day, you have a job.  If two weeks later you’re still showing up on time, they’ll make you the manager.  Well, sure enough, the dog left town with its owner and I stayed.  As well as being a tour guide, I worked other side jobs such as newspaper delivery boy, bakeshop dishwasher, and event security (a.k.a. bouncer).

The island life was a relaxing and good one.  It is hard to resist the sunniest place in Florida with the least amount of rain.  It ‘s truly Paradise except, endless renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs blaring down from Duval Street.  One day I woke up with one more hangover and realized I wasn’t moving forward with my life.  It was time for me to progress forward on my flight plan for life.

This was the culmination of a restlessness that I tried to resolve, and it brought me through many different experiences.  These included several semesters at a state university, a shopkeeper in South Beach, and an unpaid Internship for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in DC.  This was right after I withdrew myself from Embry Riddle; I wanted to try something different in life. But my passions drew me back.

On August 27, 2012, my second first day of college began.  Once again excited to be making progress, living in campus dorms, and starting from where I had left off, but more focused on my degree: Aviation Business Administration.  In one week, I will be curing my desires, dusting off the backpack and train hopping across Europe to appease my wandering soul.  In one month, I will be attending classes with the Study Abroad program in Berlin, and in one year, I will be an Embry-Riddle alumnus. It’s a long way from the old island life, and it feels great!